By: Hannah Irvin
Trigger warning: the following article discusses sexual violence
It’s disappointing when you don’t even have to play a game to know it is terrible. I imagine the developers of “Cyberpunk 2077” would agree. The glitches alone cost the company an estimated $1 billion.
Although I would not consider myself a “gamer,” I was excited about “Cyberpunk 2077” because of the open world and the storyline. I love the aesthetic and the game was something my friends and I could talk about.
Unfortunately, glitches aside, the game was a failure and a disgrace.
From the very beginning, it is disgustingly misogynistic towards women by including graphic displays that don’t even attempt to advance the plot. Female and male characters are discovered together, having been murdered, and the female character is mangled and naked while the man is not.
Why are women not afforded the same decency as men? There are a few strong female characters at the beginning of the game, but even they are subjected to abuse, assault and eventually, murder.
We are sick of being “represented” in games as prostitutes, victims of assault and naked bodies in the background. No one should be represented in such a way. It’s inhumane. It’s unethical. It’s old-fashioned, to say the least. But it certainly isn’t rare. Popular games like “God of War,” “Grand Theft Auto V” and “Red Dead Redemption 2” go so far as to use sexual assault as part of missions.
If an argument is made that Cyberpunk 2077 features violence against women for the realism, it is a self-fulfilling prophecy.
Male players are more likely to exhibit aggression towards women after playing violent and sexualized video games. They are less likely to exhibit empathy towards female victims of violence. One study found that games depicting the sexual objectification of women resulted in increased rape-supportive attitudes (also known as “rape myth acceptance”). Female players who observe over-sexualized female characters are more likely to have poor self-image and a negative self-concept. Sexist video games encourage sexist beliefs and behaviors. It is a vicious cycle.
In addition, player-created modifications include having sex with characters based on real people and brain-washing a lesbian character into have sex with a man. None of this is ethical. None of it is respectable. It is a filthy display of the violence many of us already know and experience. Gaming is supposed to be an escape from the real world, a chance to experience things you would never have the chance to otherwise. Over half the world’s population experiences these elements daily.
According to the Rape, Abuse & Incest National Network (RAINN), 1 in every 6 American women has survived a rape or attempted rape and 90% of rape survivors are female. A study by the CDC shows that the majority of perpetrators are male, even in cases where the survivor was also male. In short, if you think you don’t know someone who has been raped, they just haven’t told you.
We don’t need sexual violence in video games and we don’t need more individuals viewing these images and deciding to replicate them. Women are much more than the limited, degraded, inferior objects developers portray us as. We deserve to be portrayed as the strong, multi-faceted warriors we know ourselves to be.
Cyberpunk 2077 has dedicated fans who will defend any decisions the developers made and instead of using that influence to usher in a generation of inclusive gaming, free of unnecessary sexual violence, they chose to further those perspectives and in doing so, solidified a failure worse than any glitch.
Hannah Irvin is the Copy Editor for the Alabamian. She is a senior communications studies major who plans on attending graduate school to study clinical mental health counseling. Her hobbies include painting, photography, flipping and being a general life-enthusiast.